Excessive Force Generally_ a police officer is allowed to use by ert634


									                                Excessive Force

Generally, a police officer is allowed to use whatever force is reasonable and
necessary to effect an arrest, or to protect himself and others. It is illegal for
an officer to use “excessive force” when making an arrest or conducting an
investigation. Excessive force is simply more force than is reasonably
necessary to accomplish his lawful objective.

In order to have a successful claim of excessive force, the plaintiff must allege
that the police conduct at issue was unreasonable under the circumstances.
Courts look to whether the officer’s actions were objectively reasonable in
light of the facts and circumstances he faced. The determination of
reasonableness requires a balancing of two separate interests: the nature and
quality of the force used by the police and the government’s interest in
effecting the arrest. Excessive force claims are often brought in Federal Court
under Title 42 U.S.C. 1983, of the Federal Code, as civil claims for damages in
which violations of a plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment rights are alleged.

Certain factors—such as an arrestee’s attempt to flee or resistance to the
arrest, as well as the severity of the underlying crime and the threat to safety
created by the defendant—may make the use of what otherwise would have
been deemed excessive force reasonable. For instance, if an arrestee struggles
with police as they attempt to arrest him, it may be reasonable for the
arresting officers to use more force than they would if he was passive. On the
other hand, if an arrestee is passive, but an officer punches him or otherwise
abuses him, that level of force, under those circumstances, may be considered

It is important for someone who thinks they may be a victim of excessive police
force to document (and photograph) any injuries they may have sustained as a
result of the use of excessive force by the police.

Similarly, gathering contact information of anyone who may have witnessed the
incident will also be helpful in developing evidence that can be used at a trial.

Qualified Immunity

 An affirmative defense of qualified immunity is available to defendants who
acted under circumstances where a reasonable official may not have
understood that the conduct alleged (forced used) was illegal. It is not
necessary to show that the defendant officer was acting in bad faith and,
indeed, the officer’s subjective intentions, such as a good faith belief that
what he was doing was lawful, are irrelevant. To defeat qualified immunity, it
is necessary for the plaintiff to show that, given the facts and circumstances
alleged, any reasonable officer would have known that the conduct complained
of violated well established law at the time of the incident.


A victim of excessive force may recover compensatory damages, injunctive
relief, and (except in the case of municipal defendants) punitive damages. The
prevailing plaintiff can also recover the costs of the litigation and reasonable
attorneys fees.

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